JMT - Day Eight

July 31, 2015
15 miles today, 74 miles total
Red’s Meadow to Virginia Lake

With another day of high mileage in front of us, Courtney and I again woke up at 5:00am to get ready. We snuck down from the loft and tried to creep around the kitchen where Cole was passed out on the sofa bed. Courtney and I packed up and soon Cole, Heather, Jennifer, and Andrew were awake and packing up, too.

The rain had died down, but the weather outside was still looking ominous. Heather and Jennifer were determined to get some miles done before it started raining again, so they left the cabin at 7:00am. Courtney and I weren’t far behind, geared up in our rain jackets and pack covers. But despite the weather prediction, the sky was mostly just overcast and a little drizzly.

Today was mostly uphill, but it was a slow, steady climb out of Red’s Meadow, so it didn’t feel as bad as the elevation map showed.

Courtney and I were feeling strong for most of the morning, enjoying the cool temperatures and admiring the view of the rolling mountains as we climbed higher. But by early afternoon we were already dragging, our feet sore and our bodies feeling run down. We found ourselves stopping every two hours to take a break, and we leap-frogged with Heather and Jennifer all afternoon. Andrew quickly caught up with us and we took a long lunch break beside Duck Lake outlet. I was feeling cold and exhausted right down to my bones, so Courtney and I cooked a hot meal on our stove to warm ourselves up. It helped our fatigue immensely.

We climbed up to Purple Lake, which was going to be our destination for the evening. Courtney and I stuck our feet in the lake and laughed when Andrew threw himself – fully clothed – into the water. Courtney and I debated going swimming, but quickly discovered that Andrew, Heather and Jennifer had plans to keep going another two miles to Virginia Lake. Not wanting to let our friends leave us so quickly, we decided to follow. It would also make tomorrow’s mileage shorter on the way to Vermilion Valley Resort, our next resupply.

Unfortunately, the last two miles to Virginia Lake were steep and rough. The distant storm was gathering again and the air was thick and humid. We could hear thunder and we worried about reaching our camp before it started raining. When we finally reached the lake, we ran the trail around the outside of it, looking for a good spot to camp. Andrew found a space to hold two tents and his tarp, so the five of us quickly set up camp under the trees. We made hot meals and collected water from the lake, and the rain held off until we were safely sequestered inside our tents at 6:00pm.